This article is from the Natl Writers Union FAQ, by Vicki Richman firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
Well, blacklisting of union members is a notorious
union-busting strategy by bosses. The most successful unions
respond by recruiting so many workers into the union that a
blacklisting boss would have an empty shop.
However, the NWU has no chance at a "closed shop" for
freelancers. We are such a diverse, independent, and
free-thinking profession that no union, no professional
association, could hope to recruit a significant majority of
freelancers. There will always be major players who refuse
Besides, under the NLRA, a closed shop for freelancers is
Still, there has been no noteworthy instance of blacklisting
against NWU members in the union history. We have recovered
well over $1,000,000 in greivances for our members, but
virtually none has cited a blacklist as the reason for
failure to be paid or hired. Many have cited unlawful
discrimation, as by ethnicity or sexual preference.
There is one tangential exception. About a dozen NWU members
-- all prominent and one the union president, Jonathan
Tasini -- sued the New York Times and other publishers for
selling the plaintiffs' works through Internet databases
without paying royalties to the authors, who owned the
About a year into the lawsuit, there were rumors that the
Times was blacklisting certain plaintiffs -- particularly by
refusing to publish reviews of their books. The rumors were not
substantiated, but several plaintiffs withdrew from the
The NWU members who persisted in the suit eventually
won, in the U.S. Supreme Court.
So, will you be blacklisted by your publisher if you join
the NWU? It's possible, but for now highly unlikely. If it
does happen, and you can demonstrate the blacklist to the
satisifaction of our grievance officers, you may be sure
that the full weight of our 7200 members will be thrown in
support of your cause, in the courts and in legislative
lobbies. Your disaster may eventually be redressed by a new
law protecting freelancers against blacklisting.